The Calling to the Back of the Bus  {Revisited}

The Calling to the Back of the Bus {Revisited}

We’ve been celebrating Black History Month now for –well …almost a whole month!  I’m late to the party and sadly, I’ve been late both in “real-time” and in  too much of my “life-time”.  God is changing that.  He is changing me!  I’m still learning but I believe there has been movement in the right direction — the direction straight to the heart of God.   I just sat through another enormously impacting conference sponsored by the community development organization,  The CornerStone Initiative …”Better Together”.  I’m still in deep process.  My head is swimming and my heart is  still stretching.  It’s hard to know where to even begin the conversation again so I’m pulling up one from the archives and revisiting what the Holy Spirit spoke back then.  How far have we come since then?  How far have I come since then?

…So this giving of your  money and possessions thing seems pretty clear but a “moment” began happening for me as a shift took place in my mind from possessions to positions …a “what if” kind of moment.

Rosa Parks (Photo: Public Domain)

Follow me for a minute on this shift to …the moment .  I remembered the story of Rosa Parks–this hero of a woman — who, back in the day of such strong racial prejudice and abuse, stood her ground and refused to go to the back of the bus for the sake of a white passenger whom the bus driver deemed more worthy of a seat at the front of the bus.  Her courage made history for African-American people everywhere that day and  I am still so proud of this woman’s courage in the face of such opposition but the thought occurred to me…

What if someone  who was sitting in the place of  “privilege”  at the front of the bus  had “chosen” to give up their “position” and go to the back of the bus, making it possible for  someone  under-privileged , mistreated  and devalued   the opportunity  to move to the front ?



Then a flood of other thoughts from my favorite Book came to mind…

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”

 More words like…

“Freely you have received, freely give”

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” Mark 9:35 (NIV)

It seems that whole “least is greatest” and “the first shall be last” is more like a revolving door to me.

There was a theme here that was becoming imprinted deeper and deeper on my heart.  I’ve been given so much in the way of material blessings, spiritual blessings, family and friends who love me deeply and on and on.  (Reminds me of another truth…to whom much is given , much is required. )  What if I make choices every day to “move to the back of the bus” in a sense, so that others who are under-resourced, poor, demeaned, de-valued, abandoned and alone might have the opportunity to “move to the front of the bus” ?  You know– take the lower spot so others can rise to the top kind of thing.  Funny thing is, it doesn’t have to be a measured distance or amount– it’s just that….

 if the...” willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

2 Corinthians 8:12-15 (NIV)

Amounts are never the issue…it’s willingness of heart. Doing something rather than nothing at all  seems to matter.  

I’m not exactly sure how this might look on a daily basis for each of us.  It’s not any amount or action dictated by others necessarily.  That’s the beauty … and the pain of it all… it’s a decision I have to make in my heart .  It’s sometimes easier if someone just tells me what to do, I respond in some safe fashion,  and then I feel all warm and fuzzy inside — my “generosity” box checked for the day, week or even year !   But when I’ve got to look into my own heart and see some areas I could make a difference — make  different choices about purchases , positions, etc. — that takes some soul-searching and who wants to go there on a regular basis 🙂 .

Not surprising,  giving of our possessions seems easier — more tangible — giving of our position — much harder.  

These are questions I would never in a million years try to answer for you  …just ask you to re-think the obvious “climbing the ladder” scenario of our culture.  We might have to step on pride and security and safety and significance and comfort — OUCH !

Maybe it will mean moving to a different state …or a different  kind of neighborhood–choosing to be okay with a not-so-great school system …taking a  position at work with less hours or less pay so more hours can be spent helping others …hiring someone who desperately needs some income instead of hiring that highly acclaimed professional.  That paint job might not look quite as  good on your door as you had hoped, but the confidence it painted on them will look Designer – phenomenal !

And what about letting someone else take the lead on something when you know think you could do a much better job.  After all, allowing others to grow in their gifts can be risky and messy and sometimes you feel it’s just easier to do it yourself and save the time and hassle of it all !

I guess it’s the whole attitude I want to have more of … taking the bottom rung so others can move to the top for a change — encouraging others to move forward and experience their dreams even if I have to switch positions or hold my current place in line for a bit longer.  After all, haven’t I been at the front of the bus long enough?? and isn’t moving back really moving forward in God’s kingdom thinking ?  Wasn’t it Jesus Himself who moved to the back of  the universe , planet Earth, so we could move up with Him to His kingdom and share in all the  royal  family benefits !? Now there’s a great Model to look at  …

 “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the cross …”

(Hebrews 12:2 NIV)

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.

2 Corinthians 8:9

What might your “back of the bus” decision look like this week?  I’d LOVE to hear your life-giving choices .  Who knows?… maybe we’ll make a difference — one back seat at a time.

So go ahead — let’s go to that vulnerable place in our soul  and soak in the words of this song  by Matthew West – “My Own Little World” and start asking God where He might have us “sit” today.


Photo  –with their description–“Photograph of Rosa Parks with Dr. Martin Luther King jr. (ca. 1955) Mrs. Rosa Parks altered the negro progress in Montgomery, Alabama, 1955, by the bus boycott she began. National Archives record ID: 306-PSD-65-1882 (Box 93).”  Public Domain

Joy Waters Martin

My kids tease me sometimes that my definition of a situation going well is often described as, "It was 'life-giving' " -- meaning, it may have had some conflicts or uneasy moments or stress but all in all , something about it breathed life into the situation and the people involved...something of the heart was moved in a good direction. I'm all about LIFE ... life with my husband, life with 4 adult children, their spouses and 8 grandchildren (to date, that is :), life in our home and life in a wild adventure we tend to label "ministry". In reality , all of these categories mesh together to make up the "organic me". Relational , redeeming and restoring are some of my favorite words and they give life to my soul as I walk it all out with Jesus Christ, the Giver of all life. Profile Photo by: Melody Martin

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